Review | Sunset Park by Santino Hassell

Sunset Park

About the Book: Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

Five Boroughs #2
M/M Contemporary Romance
Dreamspinner Press | December 11, 2015
amazon2 bn2

This is not a review I’m looking forward to writing, because I’m going to fall into the minority and it makes me really sad.  It’s not that I can’t see why so many people love Five Boroughs, because I really really do.  It’s more about why it hasn’t worked for me specifically.

Santino Hassell is an exceptionally talented author.  He has serious writing skills that kept me reading, finishing Sunset Park all in one day.  In the beginning I loved the story.  I loved how cute it was that tough Raymond let David cuddle him, and flirt with him.  I thought their friendship was so unique, and I felt serious chemistry between them.  My heart was full, and I was ready for this really intimate affectionate relationship.  I was loving it.

Unfortunately that dynamic didn’t stay throughout the book.  I know that the relationship was changing, and that would affect how they interacted, but it felt like more than that.  The sweetness between them seemed to fall apart.  I found myself getting more and more aggravated with the both of them.  It wasn’t an angst that made sense to me, it was all so pointless, and I felt frustrated.

I think the biggest issue I had was with Raymond.  This was sad for me, because in Sutphin Boulevard Raymond was one of the characters I was most interested in.  I was looking forward to getting to know him even more.  I wanted to be in his head.  I was anticipating that it would be a darker perspective, and it was.  I think my problem was when his conversations with David went from affectionately amused to hurtfully dismissive.  David even called him out repeatedly, telling Ray how much it hurt, and yet it never clicked to Raymond.  He never recognized how poorly he talked to, and treated, this man he was falling in love with.  It made me like him less in the end.

I’m not trying to put all the blame on Raymond though, because I had my issues with David too.  I can’t take the games.  The constant back and forth, playing with people’s emotions, even if it wasn’t to be cruel.  I believe it wasn’t to be mean, but the end result was still the same and I didn’t like reading it.

They treated each other badly.

Now, obviously there were things I did enjoy, since I read it so fast.  Again, I love Santino’s Hassell’s writing style.  I love the use of slang, and how current each book feels.  He’s one of the best steamy romance authors I’ve ever read.  (The Grindr scene, one of the sexiest ever!)  I definitely have no intention of quitting him as an author, especially since I know he can write character issues without undue angst.  I’m just not sure if Five Boroughs will be among my favorites.  I hear that the next book is even heavier on the angst, and I have to say I’m worried.

Don’t hate me, Angie!

3_5 feather

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

7 Responses

  1. I don’t hate you. I know every book isn’t for everyone. I, of course, don’t agree with you since this is one of my favorites, and I think it’s too bad you’re already worried about the next one because I think it might hinder a good reading experience. But I definitely don’t hate you! Your honest reviews are one of my favorite things about you. 🙂


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